Former ST Singaporean of the Year nominee fulfils dream of opening minimart for the needy, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Former ST Singaporean of the Year nominee fulfils dream of opening minimart for the needy

Canteen vendor Asanul Fariq Sani has been giving out groceries to the needy for years but has now stepped up his charity work by selling his family car to open a minimart.

Located in Block 201D Tampines Street 21 and called Riqmah Putraz, it is stocked with items like frozen foods and staples like cereal, milk and noodles that have been paid for by donors and Mr Fariq himself.

Needy families who have registered with Mr Fariq, 50, can make an appointment and pick up these items without having to pay for them. 

No income slips or any other form of verification is required – he relies on people’s goodwill and trust, saying he will help whomever he can.

Walk-in customers can also make purchases at the shop which opened on Dec 1.

To set up the minimart, Mr Fariq sold the family’s Proton Exora multi-purpose vehicle for $13,000, using the money for rent, utilities, equipment and food items.

Two years ago, his wife Norhasyimah Awaludin put his name up for the Singaporean Of The Year award, organised by The Straits Times and supported by investment bank UBS.

At the time, the couple had started Riqmah Kindness Corner, putting groceries and foods outside their second-storey flat in Block 268 Tampines Street 21 for anyone who needed them, no questions asked.

Mr Fariq then dreamt of taking the idea and turning it into something bigger, and that is how the minimart was born.

But the project has had its share of challenges.

Mr Fariq, who sells food in a primary school tuckshop with his wife, said: “I have no experience in running a shop like this. So, several weeks before opening, I went all over Singapore to do market research, and plan my budget and costs.” 

The rental for the minimart is a mid four-figure sum, he said, and he sets aside 30 per cent of the income from the tuckshop for the shop each month. 

He receives support from sponsors – usually in sums of between $100 and $300 – once in a while, and keeps a close eye on the books, to make sure he stays afloat and keeps his costs low.  

In total, he said he has invested about $30,000 in the shop, which is open every day from 9am to 9pm.

To cut costs, he got his four sons, aged 15 to 21, to pitch in with cleaning and giving the outlet a fresh coat of paint, skipping the need for a full renovation.

Mr Asanul Fariq Sani said he would not have been able to open the minimart without support from his four sons and wife.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ASANUL FARIQ SANI

Family members take turns to man the outlet.

Even though he does not get a discount when he gets supplies from vendors, Mr Fariq prices his goods between 10 per cent and 20 per cent lower for his walk-in customers. 

He said: “At the end of the day, my family and I just want to help people. By selling the car and setting money aside for these initiatives, I don’t feel regretful or scared. I am certain that there will be blessings in other ways for us.”

His children also appreciate the importance of being compassionate, and learn the value of giving back to the community, not just in terms of money, but also in any small way that they can, he added. 

Mr Fariq said he welcomes any help, and hopes more donors will come forward. 

His family are also involved in an initiative to help young children prepare for school in 2024, by getting them school bags and stationary items. 

“My family and I always say: ‘We are not rich, but we can always help in any way we can.’”